“It ain’t safe no more.”
The Bruins might have lost several players on defense after the 2016 season, but they have a lot of upperclassmen ready to step into leadership roles as well as several young players that will make an impact in this season.
Players like Kenny Young, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Jaleel Wadood will lead the defense with their experience. Most of these upperclassmen have been in Westwood since Bradley got there. With Bradley and his players functioning under the same mindset, they have grown together in the DC’s defensive system.
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That mindset is now being embedded into younger players which look to keeping the defense competitive and fierce going forward.
Just as we have seen every year in the Mora era, we will continue to see several young athletes play heavy minutes if they are up to the task. Boss Tagaloa, Lokeni Toailoa, Darnay Holmes and Jaelan Phillips will all have their names attached to big plays under the teachings of Bradley and his staff. UCLA has done an excellent job of spotting talent on the defensive side and putting that talent in the best position to succeed.
The point is, UCLA is not going to have a dropoff on defense from year to year, not with Bradley in charge. He may tinker with his formations to utilize stronger, deeper position groups (going from 4-3 to 5-2 to nickel and back again), but he will always have his players ready.
The Bruins might have lost a bevy of defenders, but all they do is reload. This is why Bradley’s defense needs to be respected (and feared), especially if the UCLA offense can be more productive than the last two years. If the defense is rested (and on the field less than the offense), they well bring hell with them. Know this.